The de Blasio administration has publicized a statement that in the upcoming year, it will increase security at 27 homeless shelters throughout the city. This grand addition to the housing system is due to the culmination of violence documented at homeless shelters in the recent years. Instated to help address the problem are peace officers who are to be deployed from the Department of Homeless Services. Additionally, de Blasio has announced that he will add medical staff to aid in the identification of medically-ill patients within the cityscape.
After Deven Black, a sixty-two-year-old public school teacher from Nyack, was killed in the East Harlem Boulevard shelter, the problem that had been resonating for years reached a climactic spur. Black was killed by another shelter resident, Anthony White. White had reportedly had a grand history of psychiatric issues that, evidently, had not been properly addressed by the shelter. Although security was hired by the nonprofit organization in-charge of the shelter, the murder managed to surpass the already in-stated authority.
According to Steven Banks, head of the city’s Human Resources Administration, peace officers have since been hired from the Manhattan office to serve people inflicted with mental/physical instability, and are without homes.
Addressing the murder of Deven Black, Banks explained that in the post-murder trauma of the attack on Black, it is only plausible that further action is taken to prevent further incidents such as this. To prevent future attacks, the city is set to increase the number of mental health workers at the centers where homeless people join the shelter system. Additionally, it is set to improve communication between city hospitals and the Homeless Services Department in cases when people with mental health issues are in-and-out of hospitals and shelters.
The actions correspond with de Blasio’s ultimate plan to address health and safety risk concerns that cloud the shelter system, and additionally, address the issue of homelessness in New York City. Unfortunately, many of the homeless refrain from going to a shelter, even when offered a ride there by the police. The fear they feel regarding homeless shelters can many times equate that which they feel on the streets; in turn, prevalent are concerns over violence and theft.
As of yet, the cost of the new services announced on Friday, as well as the exact number of peace officers who will be deployed, is still being determined. Mr. Banks said the Police Department would be conducting a review of security at shelters and making recommendations about deployment.
This is surely an important step towards ensuring that people who do suffer from chronicled mental illness are directed towards facilities where they can be rehabilitated, rather than thrown into jail cells where their instability can suffer incremental issues. It is with hope that this problem is further addressed and that people without homes do not have to feel either unsafe or destined for a life of violence.